D. Grgec1, M. Smilevski2, D. Bjelobrk1

1Polytechnic of Zagreb (CROATIA)
2Croatian Personal Data Protection Agency (CROATIA)
The paper presents the results of a six-year long study of students' scores in the one-semester introductory programming course at the technical college.

Introduction to Programming is a fundamental university or technical college course in technical disciplines. However, it often presents a substantial challenge for the students. This paper compares the student's scores at the end of one-semester course with the scores at the initial tests over a six-year-period. Initial questionnaire and test are solved by the students at the semester start. They consist of logical, mathematical and algorithmic problems as well as questions. During the semester the students are evaluated through written tests, laboratory exercises and tests of programming skills. Only students who enrolled the course for the first time are subjected to the analysis in this paper. Only the credit points obtained during the semester are accounted for in the analysis.

Statistical analysis of all students' scores is presented with explanation of organizational issues, curriculum, timetable and student population variations with the time. Analysis of student's results regarding their previous grades and professional preferences is presented. Correlation of individual students initial and final scores is calculated for the last two years when the initial test were not anonymous. The paper shows that the initial test scores are similar to the final ones in all cases. Influence of secondary school grades, state graduation exam and Bologna process are discussed in the paper.

Possible improvements in the testing and data collection process in order to enhance the statistics are given in the conclusion. Guidelines for changing the subject organizational issues and curriculum in order to improve students' programming skills are given at the end.